Best Solar Panel Loans

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 19, 2021

If you’re a concerned citizen who would like to make a difference in our world war against a looming climate change Goliath, you might feel as if you’ve got a tiny slingshot and not rocks. One way you can help fell the giant is by installing solar panels on your home or around your property. Solar panels save you money while reducing your carbon footprint. With 1 of these solar panel loans, you can afford to buy and install solar panels on your house.

How Can Solar Panels Benefit your Family or Business?

Solar panels installed on your roof not only save the environment and reduce your power bill, they can sometimes even generate money for you if you are able to sell some of the extra  power the panels generate. Using renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution associated with energy production and helps diversify the nation’s energy supply. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports the growing green power market by purchasing and generating renewable energy in a variety of forms, and you can too with the addition of solar panels to your home. Generating electricity in this way benefits you and your community. A solar panel loan can help you get started.

Solar energy is the fastest growing and most affordable source of new electricity in America. Over 3 million installations have been built across the country — with 1 million being built in the last 2 years. As the cost of solar energy systems dropped significantly, more Americans and businesses have taken advantage of clean energy. 

Benefits of solar panel installation include:

Tax Credits

Solar panels qualify you for a tax credit. In December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the investment tax credit ( ITC), which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020 through 2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023.  Installing solar panels qualifies for the Solar ITC. 

Increased Resale Value

Solar panels lift resale value. A Building Codes Assistance Project study shows that 9 out of 10 buyers would choose a highly energy efficient home with lower utility bills rather than 1 costing 2% to 3 % less without those features. On average, home buyers are willing to pay an additional $7,095 in the upfront price of a home to save $1,000 annually in utility costs.

Additionally, 84% of home buyers believe that low utility costs are important when buying their

next home. In 2021, it’s a seller’s market, but fast forward a few years and your solar panel energy savings may be the reason a buyer chooses your home over others languishing in the buyer’s market of that decade.

Online Ability to Estimate Cost

If you want to see a ballpark estimate of how much solar panel installation might cost while also getting connected to potential installers, try Solar Estimate.org’s online calculator

Choosing the Best Solar Panel Lender

Take a look at the best loans available for solar panels.

Dividend

Dividend is a leading national provider of renewable energy and energy-efficient financing solutions to property owners. A solar panel loan through Dividend offers competitive rates with great customer service. Loans for solar panel installation are one of its specialties, and its loan officers guide you through the entire loan and tax credit process. Its flagship product, the EmpowerLoan™, continues to expand its product offerings into the storage and home-energy space.

Dividend also offers a commercial PACE loan, which is a public-private financing mechanism for energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation and seismic upgrades on privately-owned property, including solar panel loans. Founded in 2013 in San Francisco, with the vision of a more efficient and sustainable world through connecting homeowners, customer-centric contractors, and financial investors, Dividend is all in with its effort to create partnerships that enable each member of the value chain to benefit.

Some of the many benefits Dividend offers include instant credit decisions, an online execution and automated payments, letting you say goodbye to paperwork and hello to a streamlined and efficient financing process. Dividend loans include flat-rate fixed payments, zero down payments, flexible financing terms, workmanship warranties and no prepayment penalties.

SoFi Personal Loans
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securely through SoFi Personal Loans's website

SoFi

SoFi is the place to go if you have a sizable house that’s going to need many solar panels, necessitating a larger loan. You’ve probably heard about SoFi’s streamlined online loan process. Everything it does is geared toward helping its members get their money right. You can borrow as much as $100,000 from SoFi for your solar panel loan.

Continual innovation gives SoFi users what they need to make that happen. Putting solar panels on your roof isn’t something everyone is doing, so getting a loan from a lender who names a core value as setting ambitious goals by being gritty and accountable makes sense. SoFi’s core values are at the center of how it thinks about serving its members. At SoFi, it’s not just what it does but how it does it.

New American Funding

New American Funding’s mission is to provide homeowners and future homeowners a variety of home financing options at competitive rates; fulfilling their needs in a manner that enhances their standard of living in realizing the American Dream. That mission includes working toward a greener earth, and its Fannie Mae (FNMA) HomeStyle®* Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program helps you achieve that goal.

Whether you want to purchase a new energy-efficient home or upgrade an existing one, a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Energy Mortgage can provide helpful loan and refinance options. This type of EEM allows approved borrowers to buy an energy-efficient home or to pull cash out of their home’s equity access funds for a wide variety of energy-efficient projects — from repairs and upgrades to landscaping to solar panel installation. Apply online, set up automatic monthly payments and reap the benefits of a solar-powered home.

Community 1st Credit Union

An investment in renewable energy reduces your utility bills and impact on the environment. A Summer Solar Loan from Generations, a division of Community 1st Credit Union, will allow you to experience the benefits of solar energy with simple financing and a low monthly payment 

Community 1st  finances your entire solar loan project, starting with a painless and quick online application process. With low interest rates and a variety of term lengths, it has the right financing solution for your solar project. You can save money, save time and save the planet.

Community 1st offers 3 types of solar loans including an energy improvement loan, fixed rate term solar loan and jackpot solar loan.iIts terms, rates and loan amounts fit your energy improvement plan.

When you finance your solar system with Community 1st,  you’re not just a customer. You’re a member-owner of a cooperative, local, not-for-profit institution. Enjoy no out-of-pocket costs, no hidden fees, no origination fees, no penalties for early repayment, no home equity requirements, no appraisal, no delays; essentially, you’ll experience no hassles with a Community 1st solar panel loan.

LightStream

LightStream offers solar and other energy-efficient home improvement loans at rates as low as 3.99%.  LightStream is now a division of Truist, formed by a recent merger of AutoPaySunTrust Bank and BB&T to form Truist. 

LightStream has no fees and doesn’t charge any penalties for prepaying your loan, in whole or in part. You can make extra payments at any time by signing in to your account. Its fixed rate, simple interest fully amortizing installment loans, no fees or prepayment penalties make borrowing for a solar panel loan easy..

For any other questions or comments, you may email us using the form below. We will respond promptly during our normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, Noon to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Upgrade

Upgrade, Inc., a fintech company that provides affordable and responsible credit to mainstream consumers, offers competitive solar panel loans. Its goal is to offer users more value and a better experience than they receive from their traditional bank. It fulfills that goal with affordable and responsible loans and cards, and no fees and high rewards checking accounts.

Upgrade’s founding team pioneered fintech 15 years ago. In the last 4years, over 15 million people have applied for an Upgrade Card or loan through Upgrade, and it has made over $7 billion in affordable and responsible credit available to its customers. 

Upgrade’s loans, including its solar panel loan, include an origination fee of 2.9% to 8%. The company deducts this fee from your loan proceeds. You can get a personal loan up to $50,000 with no prepayment fees. Although Upgrade has less competitive APR rates, it serves customers with credit issues and offers 1-day funding.  It also accepts passports in place of a social security number.

GreenBiz Financial

The mission of GreenBiz Financial is to offer solar and other energy-efficient home improvement loans with attractive rates to its customers. More and more homeowners are opting to install solar panels on their homes, as well as other energy-efficient home improvements. In order to accomplish this, you might need financing. Count on competitive rates, customizable loan durations, and personal customer service from GreenBiz. 

You can use GreenBiz’ useful amortization calculator to get an idea of how much your payments might be or to play around with various amounts and rates. The GreenBiz customer service team is just a phone call away with loan experts ready to talk to you and explain what your solar panel loan will entail.

In addition to providing financing to individuals, GreenBiz also loans money to contractors installing solar panels. Contractors working with GreenBiz access low financing rates and a financial entity that works with them to ensure progress payments flow smoothly and on time.

Rocket Solar

  • securely through Rocket Solar's website
    securely through Rocket Solar's website
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    Solar Loans and Mortgage Support
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Rocket Solar is the solar arm of Rocket Mortgage, which helps you purchase solar panels for your home (that you might have purchased with a Rocket Mortgage.) Keep in mind that minimum credit scores for personal loans and mortgages are different, and you should work with Rocket Solar to learn what is available to you.

You can learn quite a bit about solar energy when you visit the Rocket Solar site, and you can decide if solar panels are the right choice for you.

Best Personal Loan Lenders

If you want to capture the best rate for your personal loan, take a look at Benzinga’s list of best personal lenders.

  • securely through SoFi Personal Loans's website
    securely through SoFi Personal Loans's website
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    No origination fees
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    Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Loan amounts range from $5,000– $100,000. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0%-7%, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive.

    Autopay: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

    Direct Deposit Discount: To be eligible to potentially receive an additional (0.25%) interest rate reduction for setting up direct deposit with a SoFi Checking and Savings account offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. or eligible cash management account offered by SoFi Securities, LLC (“Direct Deposit Account”), you must have an open Direct Deposit Account within 30 days of the funding of your Loan. Once eligible, you will receive this discount during periods in which you have enabled payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/month to a Direct Deposit Account in accordance with SoFi’s reasonable procedures and requirements to be determined at SoFi’s sole discretion. This discount will be lost during periods in which SoFi determines you have turned off direct deposits to your Direct Deposit Account. You are not required to enroll in direct deposits to receive a Loan.

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  • securely through Figure Personal Loan's website
    securely through Figure Personal Loan's website
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    Quick funding
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    *AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Excellent credit required for lowest rate. Rates vary by loan purpose.

Summer of Solar

Consider becoming a part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Summer of Solar by researching and committing to solar panel installation through a solar panel loan today. You can take the sun from a coffee-meet buddy to your bestie with one of these affordable, tax-friendly solar panel loans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What is the best way to finance solar panels?

A

If you prefer to buy your solar energy system, solar loans can lower the up-front costs of the system. In most cases, monthly loan payments are smaller than a typical energy bill, which will help you save money from the start. Solar loans function the same way as home improvement loans, and some jurisdictions will offer subsidized solar energy loans with below-market interest rates, making solar even more affordable. New homeowners can add solar as part of their mortgage with loans available through the Federal Housing Administration and Fannie Mae, which allow borrowers to include financing for home improvements in the home’s purchase price. 

 

The U.S. Department of Energy explains that solar leases and PPAs allow consumers to host solar energy systems that are owned by solar companies and purchase back the electricity generated. Consumers enter into agreements that allow them to have lower electricity bills without monthly loan payments. In many cases, that means putting no money down to go solar. Solar leases entail fixed monthly payments that are calculated using the estimated amount of electricity the system will produce. With a solar PPA, consumers agree to purchase the power generated by the system at a set price per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. With both of these options, though, you are not entitled to tax benefits since you don’t own the solar energy system.

Q

Is it smart to finance solar panels?

A

Borrowing comes with costs that consumers would rather avoid, but in the case of these low-interest, tax-subsidized loans, the much-reduced costs are worth it. You get the energy savings and climate reduction benefits of solar energy without emptying your bank balance, which is a positive for you and our environment. 

About Kathryn Hauer, CFP®

Kathy is an expert in finance (personal, corporate), financial planning, financial literacy, tax preparation and laws, saving and investing, retirement, insurance, careers, college education planning and financing, cannabis, gig economy, forming and running a business, credit and debt issues, blue-collar workers, and military issues. She has a strong interest in crypto, DeFi, FinTech, InsureTech, AgTech.